It’s no secret that I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the way that many of my fellow Christians have handled the issues of today (as evident in my many posts here on the blog). I could go on for days about the things that I think are alienating nonbelievers, and it may surprise some people to hear that most of these things are simple behaviors and attitudes that can be changed. I see and hear things from other Christians that make me want to stand up and apologize to everyone else, and remind them that not all Christians feel the same way. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything I hear is negative. There are countless great, honest people who are doing amazing things in the name of Christ, and we need more of them in this world. Still, I often feel that Christians as a whole are taking one step forward and two steps back, and we need to change that.
Being a blogger, I found it only natural to start changing it here, and thus “Two Steps Back” was born. TSB is a new series of posts that will be published here, and they will highlight the things that I notice (however small or large) that are causing us to take those two steps back. Obviously they won’t be regularly scheduled posts, as they’re inspired by my observations. There generally is not a schedule for seeing and hearing the ridiculous things that I’ll be writing about, so Two Steps Back posts will come at random. The content will vary, depending on the ridiculousness that I see.
Now I realize that for me to come in as a Christian and point at other Christians for their behavior is probably not the most popular notion, and I’d be willing to bet that a fair number of people will say it’s hypocritical and overly religious of me. Here’s the thing, though: they’re right. I tend to operate under the idea that we function better as a society when we’re constructively critical of each other. The same can be said for Christianity. If we can’t turn to our brothers and sisters in Christ and say, “hey, I think you might be pushing people away by doing that,” then we’ve become too prideful. So as I point out the things that I think we need to avoid or perhaps do differently, I encourage anyone to do the same to me. I know I’m not perfect, and I know that I make mistakes in my own walk with Christ. We all do. So I welcome criticism, because it gives us an opportunity to have serious, rational discussions.
So what’s the point? While that’s a fairly loaded question with a complicated answer, I can say that my ultimate goal is (ironically) to stop writing these posts. I want to get to a point where I don’t see anything that’s so bothersome that it warrants my typing for several hours. I want us as Christians to change the things that are hurting our cause, which we can’t do unless we acknowledge that there’s a problem in the first place. When I no longer feel the need to write a few thousand words because a fellow Christian said something completely ignorant, my mission will be accomplished. But until then…..
I was sitting in my Philosophy class last week, and we were discussing morality and its connection to religion. As my professor was lecturing about the different beliefs surrounding the issue, a classmate raised his hand. My teacher called on him, and the student’s comment was something along the lines of:
“I just wanted to point out that in Christianity, we don’t believe that morality is independent of God.”
In true philosophy teacher fashion, my professor more or less dismissed his claim. The poor guy got a few awkward stares from others in the class. Nevertheless, something about his comment stuck with me. Okay, there were actually several things about it that bothered me. For starters, it was made in a very arrogant tone. Normally I hate to nitpick about little things like that, but it just seemed like this guy genuinely thought that he knew more than anyone else in the room about morality and God. Sadly, this is something that I see pretty often with other Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we as Christians need to stop speaking up and answering questions. But when we do that, we have to do it in a respectful way. If I make a comment in a snobby manner, and everyone looks at me as if I just won the Prick of the Year award, I’ve accomplished nothing.
Moving on, can we talk about pronouns for a second? Stay with me, I promise I’m not going to give you an English lecture. Beyond his tone, there was one thing in particular that bugged me the most: “we.” It’s only a two-letter word, but it makes all the difference in the world. See, when he made his snarky comment, he said that “in Christianity, WE don’t believe,” and that bothered me deeply. Look dude, I respect that you raised your hand and gave your perspective on the topic. But with all due respect, you don’t speak for all Christians, and you certainly don’t speak for me.
I was sitting two rows behind this guy as he essentially said that he, I, and every other Christian in the room share this specific belief. Regardless of whether we do or not, you can’t just make blanket statements about Christianity. Given that there are billions of Christians and nearly countless denominations around the world, I think it’s safe to say that we don’t all believe exactly the same thing. So the next time you want to give the Christian perspective on a topic, please make sure that you change your pronouns. If my classmate had said, “as a Christian, I don’t personally believe that morality is independent of God,” I wouldn’t have a problem. Every time I have a conversation about my beliefs, I specify that they’re just that: my beliefs. I know that not everyone agrees with me on certain things, and I respect that difference of opinion by not lumping all Christians into one group when I speak. I’d appreciate it if you did the same.